Independent U.S. Senate candidate Clayton Walker has been removed from the Nov. 4 general election ballot.

Secretary of State Jason Gant announced Tuesday that the Black Hawk resident would no longer appear on the ballot after an investigation found nearly half the signatures on nominating petitions Walker submitted were invalid.

According to a letter from Gant’s office dated Tuesday, an investigation showed that 1,613 of the 3,374 signatures Walker submitted on April 29 were invalid.

The investigation came after Brookings resident Mary Perpich filed an affidavit challenging 1,834 of Walker’s signatures May 8. In that affidavit Perpich, who is also the Brookings County Democratic Party chairwoman, alleged that the signatures were invalid because they were from unregistered voters, had the wrong county listed, had invalid addresses or because the signature and other information was illegible.

Perpich’s affidavit also calls attention to the “odd nature of Mr. Walker’s petitions,” such as the petitions indicating he circulated nearly all of them himself, sometimes hundreds of miles apart on the same day. Others “have uniform handwriting and appear to be filled out by the same person,” the affidavit says.

There are also “multiple examples” of possibly fictitious or celebrity names such as “Cherry Drop,” “Black Notes,” “Dusty Cover,” “Jeff Bridges” and “Ryan Reynolds,” the document said.

During a phone interview on Thursday, Gant said his office had found “a number of irregularities” with the petitions, the majority being voters who weren’t registered.

With Walker out of the race, the general election will shrink to include Democrat Rick Weiland, independents Larry Pressler and Gordon Howie and the winner of the June 3 Republican primary. Mike Rounds, Larry Rhoden, Stace Nelson, Annette Bosworth and Jason Ravnsborg are the current Republican candidates.

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